President Donald Trump is hinting that he will fire Dr. Anthony Fauci following Tuesday’s election as his divide with the country’s top infectious disease expert deepens amid the coronavirus pandemic surging.
Speaking at a campaign rally in Florida late Sunday night, Mr. Trump appeared to be visibly upset that the pandemic is still dominating headlines as it has now killed over 230,000 people. This prompted his crowd of supporters to chant “Fire Fauci!”.
“Don’t tell anybody but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump said, before adding on that he appreciated their “advice” on the matter.
Mr. Trump’s comments come just over 24 hours from Election Day, ensuring his handing of the pandemic will be the key topic dominating the headlines and be likely be a target of Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s attacks.
There were previous reports about the President firing Dr. Fauci but this is the most direct he has been about the issue publicly. Mr. Trump aired a TV ad manipulating the doctor’s words, leaving Fauci upset and calling out the White House.
Earlier this week Dr. Fauci said the U.S. could experience “a whole lot of pain” in the upcoming winter months if no action is taken to control the virus. Fauci said the country “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” to handle the increase in surges as more people gather indoors with the weather turning cooler.
Fauci added that he believes Mr. Biden “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective,” while Mr. Trump is “looking at it from a different perspective.”
Most of the Florida crowd were not wearing masks and little social distancing. Mr. Trump has held massive rallies in states with re-surging coronavirus outbreaks but his message of the virus “rounding the corner” will resonate with voters.
While Mr. Trump and Dr. Fauci had a good show of cooperation earlier at the start of the pandemic, their relationship has soured over the past few months. A few weeks ago, the doctor mentioned he had not spoken to the President in months.
The President has recently relied on Stanford doctor Scott Atlas, who has no prior background in infectious diseases, as his adviser on the pandemic. Atlas has been skeptical about mask wearing and social distancing despite other top scientists and medical professionals saying it is the best way to remain safe.
As of early Monday morning, 9.2 million people across the United States contracted the virus with 230,000 people dying from it.